Do I need a license to sell food from my home in Illinois?

Posted by Damian Roberti on

For Illinois citizens who want to labor in their own kitchens, selling handmade food is becoming easier. Homemade food producers can sell a wide variety of items directly to customers in a number of locations, according to state legislation, which was revised in 2017 and 2021. Prior to January 1, 2022, most handmade food sales in Illinois were restricted to farmers' markets. Local governments were also free to enact their own restrictions, resulting in a patchwork of legislation. Homemade food producers may be able to travel between towns and discover new prospects. On January 1, 2022, the entire state will be subject to the same set of rules.

Cottage food kinds in Illinois

Cottage cuisine, or food prepared in a home kitchen for sale, is regulated in several jurisdictions. Meat, poultry, seafood, shellfish, pumpkin pies, sweet potato pies, cheesecakes, custard pies, creme pies, pastries with potentially hazardous fillings or toppings, low-acid canned foods, sprouts, cut leafy greens, cut or pureed fresh tomato or melon, dehydrated tomato or melon, frozen cut melon, wild-harvested mushrooms, alcoholic beverages, and kombucha are all prohibited from being sold by Illinois cottage


Only acidified garlic oil may be sold by Illinois cottage food manufacturers. They can only sell dairy and eggs as ingredients in dishes that aren't potentially dangerous. Cottage food manufacturers in Illinois that sell canned tomatoes or canned goods containing tomatoes must use preapproved recipes or submit unique recipes for testing at a professional laboratory to assure adequate acidity.

Cottage food restaurants in Illinois

Cottage food producers in Illinois are allowed to sell directly to consumers for personal use only, not for resale in coffee shops, bakeries, or other retail outlets. Sales will be allowed at farmers' markets, fairs, festivals, public events, and online beginning January 1, 2022. Home pickup and delivery are also available in Illinois, however local restrictions may apply. Only non-potentially hazardous foods are allowed to be transported, and nothing may be exported out of state.

Starting off in Illinois

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Cottage food producers in Illinois must register with their local health department each year and pay a $50 yearly fee. Home inspections are not necessary to begin, but they may be conducted in response to consumer complaints or foodborne disease outbreaks. Cottage food producers in Illinois can sell their products outside of their local jurisdiction after they have been registered.

Cottage food labeling in Illinois

The name of the cottage food operation, the unit of local government where the cottage food operation is located, the identifying registration number provided by the local health department, the common name of the food product, all ingredients listed in descending order by weight, the date the product was processed, and allergen labeling as specified under federal labeling requirements must all be included on a prominent label on Illinois cottage food. ""This product was prepared in a home kitchen not inspected by a health department that may also process common food allergens," the label must state in large letters. Contact your local health department if you have any safety concerns.

Facts about Illinois Cottage Food

Cottage cuisine is riddled with myths. The following are the facts:

Cottage food is completely safe.

Because real-world incidents are rare or non-existent, those who discuss the possibility of food-borne disease present hypothetical scenarios of what may go wrong.
Cottage cuisine is made in the area.
Money stays in the local economy when neighbors trade with one another.
Food prepared in a cottage is transparent.
People who buy from a small-scale food supplier know exactly what they are getting. They can inquire about ingredients, origin, or safety if they have any.
Jobs are created by cottage food.
Many handmade food makers rely on their earnings to support their family. Others are looking for a second or extra source of income.
Women are empowered by cottage food.
According to the IJ cottage food research, the majority of cottage food producers are women, and many of them reside in rural locations with limited economic opportunities.
Cottage food broadens the range of options available to consumers.
Some businesses just don't have what you're looking for. If you follow a gluten-free, peanut-free, halal, kosher, or vegan diet, this is especially true. Cottage food fills in the holes in the market, offering customers more choices.